A dejected Essendon at the final siren. (Photo: Nathan Whytcross)

Essendon has been left to lament a third-quarter fadeout in its 13-point loss to Footscray at Whitten Oval on Sunday.

The Bombers led by three points at the main break, but conceded a seven-goal third term to succumb to a 11.11 (77) to 13.12 (90) defeat.


A final-term fightback offered a glimmer of hope, but the Bulldogs were able to keep a two-goal buffer throughout to keep the Bombers winless.

The Bombers were able to match the Bulldogs in most stats, but couldn't get the rewards in a forward line missing Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, who was sidelined due to the AFL's health and safety protocols.

With the forwards well held, a lot was left to the defenders and midfielders to do the damage as 10 individual goalkickers combined for the Bombers' 11 majors, including stunning efforts on the run from Garrett McDonagh and Nick Bryan and a brilliant snap from Tom Hird in the dying stages.

Captain Joe Atley battled hard in midfield with game-highs in disposals (27) and clearances (nine), while Brayden Ham (21 disposals, 11 marks) found plenty of space.

Nick Hind was busy across half-back with 20 touches, while Bryan (one goal, 29 hitouts, 13 disposals) continued his push for senior selection.

The Bombers will return to Windy Hill on Sunday to host the Hawks.

WESTERN BULLDOGS  3.2  4.3  11.10  13.12 (90)
ESSENDON  1.2  4.6  7.6  11.11 (77)

Goals: Archard, Bryan, Ham, Hird, Eyre, Fitzgerald, McDonagh, McLeod, Sutton, Weightman

Disposals: Atley 27, Conforti 25, Ham 21, Hind 20, McDonagh 19